Lamb shanks were a meat I picked up while picking up lamb chops. Dalia’s does a mean lamb shank, and I was looking for something straightforward to do with lamb, that didn’t involve a lamb steak style prep. Stefan Gourmet had a good looking lamb shank recipe, so I took his approach when trying to make this dish.

The meat itself came from Australia and was, to be plain, a little butchered. The pieces were nearly cut in two in the middle.

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We coated the meat in olive oil, the leaves of fresh thyme, salt, a pepper blend, a light dusting of garlic and onion powder and sealed the meat in a bag.

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This went into a sous vide pot and was cooked for 48 hours at 144 F. The smell of the meat after cooking was fantastic.

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Though plans had changed in the two days of cooking. I still went ahead and recovered the lamb juices. Since solids will form with unheated sous vide juices, these were poured into a pot and heated till solids formed. These solids were then strained, using a collander and wet paper towels, and placed in a jar for later use.

Solid forming in the lamb juices as they heat. The brown layer on top is later strained  off the juices.

Solid forming in the lamb juices as they heat. The brown layer on top is later strained off the juices.

The meat itself was very good, but very reminiscent of the kind of meats the Chinese favor. It’s as if the breakdown of all the connective tissue left it with a lot more gelatinous character. It also reminded me of meats that have been stewed for many hours, but without the water associated with that kind of treatment.

More gelatinous than I expected, very tender, and delicious.

More gelatinous than I expected, very tender, and delicious.

Because the meat had been nearly doubly cut, it never did hold up to much of any kind of post prep, falling apart easily. All that said, I’d do it again. Meats nearly cut in two shouldn’t be used as stand alone entrees, but perhaps as the source of meats for sandwiches, quick soups, or as a meat topping for a pasta dish.

Naan N Curry is an Pakistani-Indian restaurant on Breckenridge Road a block or so north of the Breckenridge intersection on Pleasant Hill Road. It offers an inexpensive buffet at lunch, one very easy to get to and get into. Just pick up a plate, choose your foods, and pay once you’re done. The clientele are mixed. There are plenty of South Asians here, and watching whole families show in traditional dress is visually exciting.

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Buffet items. Top and right has cabbage curry.

Buffet items. Top and right has cabbage curry.

The buffet has perhaps 15-20 choices or so at lunch, a salad bar that contains chutneys, among other things, and slices of jalapenos that have pretty reasonable spice to them. The buffet is notably clean, not as confused as the one in Asma’s Cuisine.

There was one notable dish out of the ones served here. The cabbage curry is quite good and worth your time and effort. Other dishes were lacking something, perhaps even disappointing. I’ve never had a single solid piece of beef when I show here. All I see in the beef dishes are plenty of bones. Outside of the cabbage curry, the dishes lack spice.

Asma’s is a spicier, more interesting buffet in my opinion, nor does Naan N Curry rise to the level of the buffet in Moksha Kitchen. Now, you won’t suffer from eating here, but if you’re wanting plenty of flavor, consider alternatives.

Naan N Curry
3083 Breckinridge Blvd
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 912-9924

Naan 'N Curry on Urbanspoon

My daughter wanted lamb chops, wanted to cook one herself and leave the other for me. I didn’t want to fight for the kitchen when she was using it, and I wanted a piece of meat cooked to the degree I wanted. Sous vide was the way to go, because I could start 2 hours ahead of time and just wait for my meat. I picked up some chops at the Publix on Pleasant Hill, the one near Fung Mei.

To note, Richard Blais has a fine sous vide recipe for lamb chops, up on the Sous Vide Supreme site. I was moving quickly with no time for marinades or fresh spices. So what I did was dry spice the meat before sealing it in the bag. I used dry rosemary and dry thyme, a large pinch of the spice on each side of the meat. I used a pepper blend instead of pure black pepper. The simplest version of the blend is cracked black pepper, crushed red pepper (i.e. the pepper flakes used on pizza), and a small amount of ground red pepper. Salt to taste, a dusting of garlic and onion powder and I sealed it in a bag.

Lamb chop, dry spiced and  ready to go into the pot.

Lamb chop, dry spiced and ready to go into the pot.

The finished meat. I added vegetables and ate it as is.

The finished meat. I added vegetables and ate it as is.

For purely idiosyncratic reasons, the meat stayed in the bag 2.5 hours at 131 F. I wasn’t interested in finishing on the stove, as I’ve found that thin meats in particular can go from medium rare to medium well before getting a decent crust. This chop wasn’t particularly thick. The chop was a fattier cut than most supermarket meats, and you have to get used to trimming sous vide meats before serving, because the fat isn’t rendered the way grilling or pan frying will.

I would say the chop compared well to other steaks I’ve cooked sous vide. I found my steak to have a little chew, and my daughter also found her meat to be chewy when pan fried. I’d consider 3 or 4 hours for meat of this quality.

The outside of Cafe USA is typical of strip mall fare, the inside full of memorabilia, a mature wry waitstaff, and more than decent breakfasts. It’s a place my father frequents when he doesn’t want to cook the first meal of the day himself.

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We had omelettes, grits, biscuits.

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Biscuits were good enough to order extras. Omelettes were good. I had a western omelette and my wife had a vegetarian omelette. At least as good were the staff, unpretentious and funny. Without our waitress our meal would have been a lot less memorable.

Cafe USA
3380 Barksdale Blvd
Bossier City, LA 71112
(318) 742-9600

Cafe USA on Urbanspoon

Bar-B-Q Shop is a spot we tried on the way home from Dallas, a recommendation of Marie Let’s Eat and notably, a favorite of the 3rd Degree Berns blog. It is an example of Memphis style barbecue, one that is less focused on smoke and more on sauce, really. Outside of the basics, like pulled pork and ribs, Memphis style has a dish called ‘bbq spaghetti’. We managed to try that as well in our trip here.

BBQ spaghetti.

BBQ spaghetti.

This style is not without its critics. Full Custom Gospel BBQ’s Daniel Vaughn, the barbecue critic for Texas Monthly these days, had very little good to say about the ‘cue here. Georgia BBQ Hunt tweeted that he’d not found a Memphis style eatery he was very impressed by. Both critics are heavily influenced by smoke-driven ‘cue, as really, am I. But some times other elements of the meal: ambiance, quality of service, commitment to a style, really count. This is one of those places.

On the way to Memphis we passed these untracked Bradley Fighting Vehicles being towed on trucks.

On the way to Memphis we passed these untracked Bradley Fighting Vehicles being towed on trucks.

Dry rub ribs and more

Dry rub ribs and more

Smoked turkey sandwich.

Smoked turkey sandwich.

Service here, we felt, was close to perfect. The people in the store were friendly, the care taken to our meal evident. The meats were pretty much as others have described, very light on smoke, very heavy on sauce. I felt the stock sauce was ordinary, but Bar-B-Q Shop’s spicy sauce was exceptionally good.

And though it doesn’t look like much, the bbq spaghetti was actually pretty good too.

To be fair, this excursion into the Memphis style isn’t going to stop me from looking for the smokiest meats around, but a meal or two at the Bar-B-Q Shop in Memphis isn’t going to hurt the hard core smoke hound. The quality spicy sauce, the tender meats, the care with which this restaurant treats customers goes a long way towards having a pleasant meal.

Bar-B-Q Shop
1782 Madison Ave
Memphis, TN 38104
(901) 272-1277

Bar-B-Q Shop on Urbanspoon

Jang Su Jang is not a place to try during peak hours, because you’ll wait. Koreans know the place cold, are the bulk of the customers here, and keep coming back. I don’t blame them. The building is well and strongly built, with thick wooden frames that evoke an almost medieval sense of solidity. The tools used here, the stone bowls, plates for stone bowls, are again, solidly constructed, and show signs of heavy heavy use. People eat here, and they eat here a lot.

In the  beginning, water and  barley  tea.

In the beginning, water and barley tea.

Banchan? As fresh as their reputation.

Banchan? As fresh as their reputation.

Soon dubu, a rich and thick version of this dish. Bowls used lack the shine of new ones being sold at Super H, and  show signs of heavy use.

Soon dubu, a rich and thick version of this dish. Bowls used lack the shine of new ones being sold at Super H, and show signs of heavy use.

Bibimbap construction kit. Toss this over the rice (in a stone bowl, not shown).

Bibimbap construction kit. Toss this over the rice (in a stone bowl, not shown).

Other reviewers (e.g. Sean, of Take Thou Food and Chloe, of Chow Down Atlanta) have remarked that the mandoo is exceptional here, the soon dubu (silky tofu soup) is quite good, and the other dishes are okay. Sean noted the freshness of the banchan, a real sticking point for him. Bella Viviere, by contrast, felt Jang Su Jang was generally good, but pricey. I had soon dubu this day, as did my wife, and my daughter had the bibimbap. We enjoyed what we had, but we didn’t eat enough to really challenge any critical notions of this place. I will say that if you eat sanely, this place is not expensive. It when you try to delve into various specials for 2 or more that it can become more expensive.

When you arrive you will be served barley tea. It’s an acquired taste, served other places as well. More Americanized spots won’t bother. There is a button on the table, as in many Korean eateries, but this one is a little hard to see and not as obvious as in many places. You can ring the button to tell waitstaff to come to your table. Banchan should come out just before your meal arrives. At lunch, service was actually pretty fast, even though there were enough folks the day we showed that we had a couple minute wait before being seated.

Everything we had was good. I liked the food, but the atmosphere, even more. If you want to feel immersed in the character of a culture, this place can put you into that frame of mind. It doesn’t act like an American eatery, and isn’t trying to be. But it’s accommodating enough to those who grew up around pine trees, cotton, peaches, and red clay, playing backyard football till you have to swim to cut through the sweat, that you’ll enjoy the meal. And for those looking for the “authentic experience”, this certainly can provide.

Jang Su Jang
3645 Satellite Boulevard
Duluth, GA 30096
(678) 475-9170

Jang Su Jang on Urbanspoon

Romie’s surprised us, a fine little lunch spot that would be successful pretty much anywhere. Featuring a meal and 3 at lunch and enormous sandwiches, this spot is a perfect stop on the way to Alabama from Memphis, TN.

That’s what we were doing recently, returning from a trip to Dallas by way of the Shreveport area. Rather than heading south through Meridian and Tuscaloosa, we went a little north, through Memphis and then down to Birmingham. After a stop in Memphis, we reached Tupelo around lunchtime. Asking the folks at the local gas station where to eat for lunch, Romie’s was recommended.

Romie's catfish po-boy, marinated cukes and tomatoes.

Romie’s catfish po-boy, marinated cukes and tomatoes.

Grilled chicken on wheatberry bread with fried green tomatoes.

Grilled chicken on wheatberry bread with fried green tomatoes.

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I’d say the lunch was a hit at our table. Yes, if we travel this route, we’d be happy to stop here again.

Romie’s Grocery
804 W Jackson Street
Tupelo, MS 38804
(662) 842-8986

Romie's Grocery on Urbanspoon

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